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Elpis Israel
by Dr. John Thomas

A month after their departure from Egypt their provision failed them.

Again they murmured against Moses and his prophet; and turned back in their hearts to the land of their affliction.

But God heard them, and gave them bread and meat to the full, and continued to them this sustenance for forty years, until they came to the borders of the land of Canaan.

One would have supposed that having been given bread from heaven all their murmurings would have ceased.

But when they came to Rephidim and found no water, they murmured again, and were ready to stone Moses, and tempted God, saying, "Is the Lord among us, or not?

" Though the manna still fell, the rebellious-hearted Israelites questioned the presence of the Lord among them!

Though tempted, He still bore with them.

He commanded Moses to go to the rock in Horeb, on the top of which He would take his stand.

He was then to smite it before their eyes that it might give forth water.

And Moses did so; and the place was called Massah, and Meribah (Temptation, and Strife) -- Exod.

On a later occasion, at Kadesh (Num.

20), God commanded Moses to speak to the rock.

But, having convened the assembly, he addressed them, saying, "Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock?

And he smote the rock twice; and the water came out abundantly, and they drank".

In this Moses exceeded his commission; therefore the Lord said, "Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them".

These incidents had a secondary import which is found in the antitypes of the forty-second generation.

Thousands of Israelites and Gentiles believed the gospel of the Kingdom, and were baptized into Christ.

As a whole they constituted "a holy nation" -- a nation within the nation -- which fed upon the true bread of heaven, and drank of the water of life by faith in the things of Christ.

But they were, and are, still strangers and sojourners in the world, which to them is like the wilderness of Arabia to Israel of the fourth generation.

But there have been multitudes in Christ, as there were in Moses, who did run well but were afterwards hindered.

They turned back in their hearts to Egypt, loving the present world, and not having faith enough to get the mastery over it.

Now, the apostle likens such to those of the fourth generation who were murmurers, and faithless, and whose carcases fell in the wilderness, from which they will never arise to enter the land of Israel under Shiloh.

"They did all eat the same spiritual meat," says he; "and did all drink the same spiritual drink; for they drank of that spiritual rock that followed them: and that rock was (or represented) Christ.